An Edmonton man held without charge while awaiting deportation to Somalia is one of five deportees in custody at the Edmonton Remand Centre, according to the latest numbers from the Canadian Border Services Agency obtained by CBC News.
Authorities hope to deport Abdikarim Gelle, 31, back to Somalia, the country he fled with his family as a child, because of his lengthy criminal record and alleged membership in a gang.
The Somali government has told Canadian authorities it won’t accept the return of people such as Gelle because he suffers from mental illness.
As Gelle’s detention stretches into its tenth month, it appears to be the longest of the five current detentions at the Edmonton jail.
According to the Canadian Border Service Agency, another deportee set to return to Somalia has been held since June. Like Gelle, he is considered too dangerous to be released.
Two other deportees are deemed flight risks. One inmate destined for France has been in jail for 10 days while another person heading to Ghana has been held for two months.
The CBSA did not provide information for the fifth detainee, citing privacy legislation.
The average length of detention across Canada since 2010 is 22.5 days, the agency said.
With the cost of detention at the remand centre about $236 per day, Gelle’s detention has cost taxpayers about $71,744 so far.
“High-risk detainees are housed in provincial correctional facilities across Canada,” CBSA spokesperson Lisa White explained in an email to CBC. “These are the only facilities suited to address detainees who are a danger to to the public.”
In August, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale announced a $138-million upgrade to Canada’s immigration detention program following the deaths of three detainees including a 24-year old man in Edmonton.
Advocates have criticized authorities for their use of provincial jails to house sick and mentally-ill detainees.
Government authorities and Gelle’s lawyer are currently looking for a facility that could better accommodate his mental health problems. They are considering the unusual move of a transfer across the country to Louis-Philippe Pinel Institute, a psychiatric facility in Montreal.
While those advocating on behalf of Gelle have called for improved mental-health supports, they warn such a transfer could be detrimental to both Gelle’s recovery and the wellbeing of his mother.
Deportations cut in half
Meanwhile, the number of overall deportations in Canada has steadily declined over the past few years, as shown in data provided to CBC News by the CBSA.
In 2012, Canadian authorities removed 18,978 people. Last year the number of deportations was only 9,367.
Similarly, deportations from Edmonton have steadily declined going from 409 in 2012 to 272 last year.
The top five countries to receive Canadian deportees in descending order were the United States, Mexico, Hungary, Colombia and China.
Deportations can occur for reasons such as criminal behaviour, membership in a terrorist group, misrepresentation to the immigration department or failure to comply with a removal order.
The CBSA said there are several removal options including deportation to the person’s country of birth or the most recent country of permanent residence.
“If none of the countries referred to is willing to authorize the foreign national to enter, the minister shall select any country that will authorize entry within a reasonable time and shall remove the foreign national to that country,” CBSA spokesperson Luke Reimer said.
Source – CBC